Saturday, September 19, 2015

Common sense

Common sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, which is shared by ("common to") nearly all people, and can be reasonably expected of nearly all people without any need for debate.

Question....why are there so many "mouth breathers" walking around these days devoid of common sense to one degree or another?

Example:  The World Rally Championship (WRC) is a car racing series against a clock, along often-unpaved rural roads.  Cars can go 80+ mph and slide sideways around corners, kicking up clouds of dirt and rocks in the process.  The crazy part is that spectators often stand literally a few feet away as the cars go whizzing past.

Should anyone be surprised when sadly, on occasion, a driver loses control and crashes into the spectators with the "ring side seats"?

Do the spectators have a right to stand that close?  Yes, I suppose they do.  But wouldn't common sense suggest it wasn't a smart thing to do?


Many years ago my ex and I traveled to Chicago together to show our support for our daughter who was graduating from Naval Basic Training.  It was in December, and while we were there, my ex did some Christmas shopping.


As we were going through airport security on our way back to Dallas, the screener said she would need to see inside the wrapped packages.  When my ex protested, considering she had paid to have them professionally gift wrapped, the screener asked what was inside, and with more than a little sarcasm, my ex replied, "a bomb".  (NOTE:  This was prior to 9/11)

Of course I took three steps back and was prepared to swear I had never seen this woman before in my life.  But the screener correctly deduced that the ex at times (usually those requiring common sense) had an elevator that stopped a few floors shy of the penthouse, and waved her/us through. 

(For the record my ex is definitely NOT a mouth breather, but is in fact extremely smart.)

Did my ex have a right to say that?  I suppose so.  (Remember, this was before 9/11.)  But wouldn't common sense suggest it wasn't a smart thing to do?


And just this week, a student at an Irving, TX high school built a digital clock from assorted electronic parts and took it to school in a briefcase to show his science teacher.

Even after his science teacher cautioned him that he probably shouldn't be taking it around school, he did anyway, which eventually got him pulled from class, briefly arrested, and expelled from school for three days.  

Now I understand this was just a 14-year-old kid, and his "common sense" gene probably hadn't yet fully developed, but shouldn't his parents have had enough common sense to see how his contraption might...just confused for a bomb?  Without the usual tell-tale signs such a digital readout, it wasn't readily apparent to a layman that it was a clock.

Of course, the fact that the student was Muslim has made his situation a viral sensation, many saying that it was all just a blatant case of Islamophobia. 

So did this student have the right to take his project to school?  I suppose so.  After all, it was just a clock.  But wouldn't it have been wise for him to leave it in his locker, or in the science class?  Wouldn't common sense suggest this wasn't a smart thing to do, carrying it to other classes, considering the shell-shocked, violence-filled world we live in today? 

Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD.  Just sayin'. 



  1. Simple mistake on the students part to not realize how seriously schools take the zero tolerance policy, and the school overacted as they have done in countless situations of kids shaping bread into a gun and other such silly things. This is NOT a case of islamaphobia in my opinion.

    Schools need to and will continue to err on the side of safety.

    "Excuse sir, what is in that back pack? Oh, just a common pressure cooker...go right in, enjoy the race."

    Imagine the hoo ha if it was a bomb and many kids were killed and maimed. What would everyone say about the science teacher who said, "Gee, he told me it was just clock"?

  2. And every time some kid goes coo coo and blows stuff up you always hear his friends and neighbors say, "He was such a nice polite kid, always a smile and a hello, he is the last person you would expect something like this from."

  3. I am going to avoid the temptation to unleash my usual withering sarcasm and answer that straight.

    First, having read the news reports, it appears (I have to say that because no exact description of what took place in the classroom has been given) that he took the engineering teacher’s advice, and didn’t show it to any of the other teachers. Then, in the English class, for some unknown reason the alarm kept making a beeping sound, which is what drew the teacher’s attention. She presumably asked what it was, and he presumably showed it to her, and she then confiscated it. He claims she said “It looks like a bomb.” and he replied “It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.”

    It’s possible that this is what pissed off the teacher. Maybe if he’d bowed his head, and apologised profusely for alarming her, then she’d just have kept it and sent him back to his seat. Who knows?

    Instead she then reported him to the principal (for taking what looked like a bomb into school), who then called the police, who took him away in handcuffs and questioned him ‘about why he would take a hoax bomb into school’.

    I’m relating all that because it seems clear from the start that no one thought it was a real bomb, but that the teacher and others thought he was playing a prank. Like taking in a toy gun or a toy knife or whatever, thereby potentially causing alarm.

    To answer your question, no, I don’t think he could reasonably have been expected to anticipate this. As you say, he’s fourteen. He had yet to learn the bizarre way adults sometimes behave. It may well take him a few more years to fully appreciate this. Should his parents have stopped him? This is tricky, as it’s not clear whether they knew about it, but we’ll assume for the moment they did. What would I have done if he’d been my son? I honestly don’t know. I was going to school at a time when bombs were being left in public places by the IRA every other week, but I don’t think I’d have made the connection. You see, to me it doesn’t look like a bomb. It’s the lack of anything that looks like even a small amount of high explosive. And nowadays so many things make beeping noises I don’t regard that as being relevant. I feel it was an astonishing reaction for the teacher to think it looked like a bomb. I wonder if the principal would have done if he hadn’t been prompted by the English teacher? Was he just backing her up? It seems like the mouth-breathers here were the various adults, not the boy or his parents. Seriously.

    1. Fair enough. Speaking for myself, if he had been my son, I would have erred on the side of caution and make him keep it at home until science fair project time. Nor would I have let my son take an army helmet, uniform, and DUMMY (inert) grenade to school, legitimate props though they might be, to embellish his WWII show-and-tell project. It's just a "can" vs "should" proposition.

  4. I think the school was right to be concerned, especially based on what's going on in the world, but I find it hard to believe that a science teacher at the school couldn't be called in to tell if this was a bomb or not. If a science teacher couldn't tell the difference, maybe this kid should be teaching the class.

    1. Good point. But back to my question, was it wise?

  5. Kids do dumb things. Doesn't excuse grown-ups from overreacting. The people with the least common sense to me are the ones who thought they'd pack a picnic lunch to go watch battles at the start of the Civil War.

  6. Common sense, unfortunately, is not so common any more. If I really thought this kid had brought a bomb to school, common sense would tell me to immediately evacuate the school. I don't think that happened in this case - did it?

  7. Hi Scott, it's been a while but I've been reading back through your blogs. What the heck happened to you this summer! Hope it's squared away now.

    Anyway, IMHO little Ahmed was assisted by his Dad in creating this "clock." The old man want to get this reaction and it exceeded his wildest expectations. As I'm sure you know, Irving has had it's share of Muslim related problems over the last year or so and the guy, an activist and publicity seeker, wanted to send a message to the Mayor there. The Mohamed's appear to be a traditional Muslim family and I seriously doubt anything like this would have been done without parental approval. The cops did however overreact with the handcuffs.

    Hope you are doing well, I haven't been to C&C in almost a year but make try to make it for October.

    Robert P

    1. Hi Robert! I'll make it a point to make C&C in October. Hope to see you there.

  8. BTW, noted liberal atheist Bill Maher seems to agree with you, so you're in good company.